10 Writing Questions For The CDP.


(The following is a 10-question writing survey forwarded to me by a CDP fan on my Facebook group. Let’s do this.)

1. What Are Your Genres? – Humorous personal essays, nostalgia, pop culture examination, barbecue sauce historian.

2. How Many Books Are You Working On Now? – I can’t say that I’ve started working on my second book yet, but we’re getting there. I spent most of 2007 working on my debut, and I plan on devoting a year to my Sophomore effort. The goal is for it to be funnier than the first, sell more copies and pay for the kidney transplant that my cat and wife so desperately need.

3. Are You A Linear Or Chunk Writer? – Linear when it’s flowing easily; chunky when I can only think of one specific thing to say at a time. The angrier I am, the more linear the essay, it would appear. The more I feel the need to tell a story in a deliberate manner, the more I get hung up and chunkified. I can’t say that prefer one to the other; they’ve both succeeded and failed numerous times.

4. What’s The POV You’re Partial To? – First-person narrative, all the way. Although I’m experimenting with fifth-person in my next book, so every sentence will start with, “I heard from this guy who told somebody…” It’s going to be a long book; very gossipy*.

5. What’s The Theme That Keeps Cropping Up In Your Books? – Morality, failure, optimism in the face of American hypocrisy, nostalgia, egotism and Emma Watson. Nobody looks worse than me, and if they do, I make sure that they don’t know my phone number.

6. How Many Days A Week Do You Write? – I write in some capacity every day I can; at least six days a week, sometimes as much as eight or ten.

7. What Time Of Day Do You Get Your Best Writing Done? – From 7am to 9am when I’ve had a decent night’s sleep, and from 10pm to 1am most nights. I spend the rest of the day wishing I could write well when the sun is out. I’ve found that I have the best ideas when I’m either slipping into or out of consciousness.

8. Who Are Your Mentors? – I can’t stand that term. Make your own decisions and learn from your own mistakes. I only take hard advice from my wife; everything else is merely a suggestion from a stranger. Mentors are for the unsure and insecure; get out there and fail.

Of course, none of that is true. I listen to any advice I receive from anyone I respect.

9. Who Are Your Favorite Authors To Read? – I’ve been reading a lot of Chuck Klosterman recently, and I’ve appreciated David Sedaris’ work in the past, before I realized that he was completely full of crap. We can also throw Kurt Vonnegut into the fray, and whomever wrote the Encyclopedia. Most of my current reading exists in the form of news wires and professional wrestling gossip sites.

10. Specific Literary Favorites? – There are very few books that I feel the need to read twice, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo being one of them. I finished that damn book in the waiting room of the dentist’s office, and I was in tears when the nurses called my name. She thought I was scared to get my cavity filled, when in reality, I just realized that I no longer believed in God. Epiphanies happen in the strangest places sometimes.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. I have a lot to think about.

*Thanks, Demitri.

CDP’s Top 11 Albums Of 2008 (So Far).

If you need any proof that 2008 has been a fairly mediocre year for album releases, look no further than my own list of top albums so far this year. This is the best stuff I’ve heard in 2008, and I doubt that 8 or 9 of these would have even been considered in my Top 20 for the last few years. Here’s hoping that the remaining five months of the year will bring the thunder. Enjoy.

11. Hold On Now, Youngster… – Los Campesinos!

10. Partie Traumatic – Black Kids

9. Brain Thrust Mastery – We Are Scientists

8. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

7. Weezer – Weezer

6. Stop, Drop And Roll!!! – Foxboro Hot Tubs

5. Saturdays = Youth – M83

4. GNV FLA – Less Than Jake

3. Adventure Boy – Scott Reynolds

2. Feed The Animals – Girl Talk

1. Stay Down – Smoking Popes

Sound off in the comments section, create your own list and enjoy your day.

I have a lot to think about.

Christ, The Donkey Is Back! Lock The Doors!


(The following phone conversation took place on Wednesday night, between my mother and I. She was probably significantly more compassionate than the following transcription will dictate, but I was too bewildered to properly register said empathy. Enjoy.)

CDP – “Hey mom. What’s up?”

MOM – “Nothing much, just watching So You Think You Can Dance?.”

“Wow…that’s really terrible.”

“It’s fun. Besides, you can’t watch anything longer than a minute when there’s a baby in the house. There’s no reason to view anything with a plotline.”

“So I guess that means I can get back my Friday Night Lights DVD that I borrowed you?”

“Yeah; we didn’t even open that thing.”

“I figured. So what’s new in town?”

“Well, Doug died. You remember Doug, right? He worked for the Fire Department. He had an inoperable brain tumor and died yesterday.”

“Damn, that’s awful.”

“Yeah, it was pretty sad. The Fire Department saluted his coffin and everything…speaking of which, the Fire Chief from the neighboring city was just killed, too.”

“No kidding? What happened?”

“Well, I guess that he got crushed between a moving fire truck and a wall. Poor guy; he was one week from retirement. Like 80 years old or something.”

“Where is your God now?”

“Shut up; God is everywhere.”

“…Except the Fire Department, I presume.”

“Stop that. Oh, I quit my job at the Post Office last week.”

“Damn! I can’t believe that you tried to tell me that nothing was going on around there.”

“Yup, I quit last week, but I stuck around a little longer because my boss’s step-sister died.”

“Wait…another person died?”

“Yeah. I guess she had leg surgery, and shortly after just tipped over and died, just like that.”

“Oh man; that’s crazy.”

“Yeah, but listen to this. A week later, my boss calls me again and asks if I can stick around a little longer, because her step-brother died, too.”

“What?”

“Mmm-hmm. I guess he had a heart attack while his family was getting him lunch at the deli. They called him to ask what he wanted on his sandwich, and he didn’t answer. Guy was already dead.”

“Jesus!”

“I know. But it gets worse.”

“There’s more?”

“Yeah. A few days later, my boss calls me again and says, “You’re not going to believe this.” Her brother had a heart attack and died, too!”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Nope. I guess they found him right in the middle of the lawn. She lost three family members in three weeks.”

“Well, you know what they say about death in threes…or fives.”

“So yeah…I’ll be working at the Post Office a little while longer while she straightens everything out, but then I’m going to start full-time at the other company.”

“Yeah, tell me about that place. Are you going to get benefits and everything?”

“Yes, but I can’t meet with my new boss because he’s out of town right now. His dad died.”

“For the love of…are you serious?”

“Yeah, his dad died of a heart attack. I guess he’s had a condition for a long time, and they’ve been treating it with some expensive, experimental procedure.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, every few months, they send a huge amount of his blood to India.”

“….pardon?”

“Yeah. They send a bunch of his blood to India, and doctors there pump it full of these stem cells and send it back.”

“That can’t possibly be safe under any circumstances.”

“I didn’t think so, either. I guess it costs $30,000 a pop, and they’ve done it at least three times.”

“Woah.”

“So yeah. But get this. The surgery required to get the stem cell-infused blood back into his system is currently illegal in the United States, so they have to fly him out to the Dominican Republic for the treatment.”

“That can’t possibly be safe under any circumstances. Do they know exactly what the Indian doctors are putting in the blood?”

“Not really. When I asked him about it, he said “You just have to trust them.””

“I have to be honest with you. That sounds like a really terrible idea.

“Well, it must have been, because the most recent time they did it, he got sick on the operating table and died.”

“It really couldn’t have ended any other way. How do you even make contacts with people to assist with such an insane thing? Did they even bother talking to American doctors about safer treatments?”

“I doubt it. They’re a rich family and do weird things. He’s dead now.”

“Well mom, I have to say that this is a new record for you. We’ve been talking for 10 minutes now, and you’ve achieved a Body Count of no less than six people.”

“I know; it’s sad.”

Sad? Screw sad, I think you’re cursed. I was going to come up there this weekend and buy a bunch of Ting Soda, but screw it. I don’t think I’m ever visiting that town again; it’s like a bizarre dimension of death and destruction.”

“I don’t blame you. It would be nice to see you, though.”

“Forget it. Love you, mom.”

“Okay. Love you, too. Goodbye.”

(click)

I then walked over to the bar, poured myself a glass of straight Jameson on the rocks, and sipped in the dark silence for the next two hours.

I have a lot to think about.

Dr. Forrester & Dr. Wily Will Rule My World.

I gotta tell you, this week is shaping up to be nothing short of a soggy nerd dream for yours truly. After the release of the genre-defining The Dark Knight, I now get an early peek at the Mystery Science Theater 3000 20th Anniversary DVD Collection, to be released in October.

It’s…it’s beautiful. Now that I think about it, I’m positive that this is what was in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. If I were Jules, I wouldn’t have given it up to Honey Bunny, either.

It’s hard for me to believe that a show like MST3K is turning 20 this year, mainly due to the fact that it only went off the air four years ago (in rerun form). I’ve always placed MST3K right next to The Simpsons when it came to the greatest comedy television of all-time, and in a lot of arguable ways, it surpassed the animated series. Even though I have all of the episodes on tape, I will buy whatever they decide to sell me in that beautiful tin case, for old time’s sake.

Finally today, I present to you the first trailer of the all-new Mega Man 9 game. If you’re familiar with the incredible Mega Man franchise, you’ll know that the first 6 installments were released for the Nintendo Entertainment System from 1987 to 1993. Mega Man 7 was released for the Super Nintendo in 1995, and Mega Man 8 came out for the Playstation in 1997.

Ten years later, the Capcom team has finally put the wraps on Mega Man 9. Take a look.

Yes, you just saw that, and yes, that’s the new Mega Man game. For the Nintendo Entertainment System. Here, check out the cover artwork!

This is one of the coolest and more unprecedented video game stories I’ve heard in years, and I commend the Capcom folks for embracing the Mega Man nostalgia and creating a brand new 8-bit adventure. Wow; what a week.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your weekend. More new stuff next week.

The CDP Dark Knight Giveaway Finalists!

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a great while, Hollywood and the mainstream get something right. Absolutely, 100%, right-jab-straight-into-the-pant-bulge spot-on. I can say without a shred of uncertainty that The Dark Knight is one of those rare moments.

For the first time in over a decade, the biggest and most lucrative movie on Earth is also the best and most worthy of praise. The Dark Knight is nearly perfect; a film that is so above and beyond any ‘Superhero’ or ‘Comic Book’ film that it’s almost an insult to call it one. Christopher Nolan and his ensemble cast of performers created a picture that, while I’m sure it will receive one or two, should never be followed by another sequel under any circumstances. They’ve put the finishing touches on a once-tanking franchise by devising the most perfect send-off of all-time; a movie that is on par with Titanic and the LOTR trilogy in terms of its cinematic experience and brilliance. It deserves to be followed-up by nothing; it’s magnitude will be impossible to replicate in the Batman universe.

I’ll say no more about the plot, scenes, tone, performances or storyline. It simply needs to be seen, and apparently, it’s been seen by quite a few people, smashing opening weekend all-time box office records (suck it, Spider-Man 3!). The IMAX footage is breathtaking, Chicago as Gotham City is beautifully filmed, and Oscar nominations will surely follow for Heath Ledger and various other cinematic creations spotlighted in The Dark Knight. I’m also extremely proud of Christopher Nolan; a guy that once shot Following for a few thousand dollars is now at the helm of a film that could gross over a billion dollars. Good for him; he deserves it.

I’m fresh out of adjectives and descriptive paragraphs, so I’ll close the book on this rant by posting the following photo, which accurately represents my unspoken feelings towards The Dark Knight:

Let’s move on. We have Dark Knight theatrical posters to give away!

If you recall from last week, I launched a contest for CDP readers to come up with a new tagline for the CDP. For years now, I’ve been using ‘Jumping The Shark Since 2004,’ a phrase that was co-created by myself and CDP Original Gangsta, Paste. The time has finally come to retire said tagline and venture forth towards total Blog mediocrity and self-defeat. Achieving ALL, and soforth.

Before we get started, I want to mention a few quick things. First, the winner will receive a Dark Knight poster of their choosing and the distinguished honor of having their tagline grace the CDP sidebar until the end of time (or until we decide to do something like this again). I had said before that the First Prize winner would receive two Dark Knight posters, but I changed it to one because I wanted to recognize as many great entries as I could. I hope that the winner understands.

Secondly, the six finalists will be contacted by me via e-mail to determine mailing addresses and who wants what poster (First Place gets first dibs, and so on). I assume it’ll take a day or two to sort everything out, and all packages should be in the mail by Friday.

Finally, it should be mentioned that I did the judging myself, and accepted no opinions or suggestions from any third party, including the Missus. I just chose what I thought was funny, indicative of the CDP and representative of the site as a whole. It was extremely difficult and I never want to do it again, so no hard feelings, okay?

Let’s get on with it! Here are my Top 15 CDP Tagline submissions (out of well over 100; thank you!). The Top 6 receive one of the following four theatrical posters from the biggest and best movie on the planet, The Dark Knight! Enjoy.

#15. “So Good, It’ll Make You Want To Slap Your Momma!
– Submitted by Wigglycito (via e-mail).

#14. “It’s Almost Like Having Real Friends.
– Submitted by Hilbelink.

#13. “The Place That Gives You Taste.”
– Submitted by Kate.

#12. “Wisconsin’s Fourth Best Export.”
– Submitted by Maus.

#11. “Bigger Than Jesus And Cereal Combined.”
– Submitted by Emily.

#10. “Putting The Bomp In The Bomp-A-Bomp-A-Bomp Since 2004.”
(Swears No Involvement In Putting The Ram In The Ram-A-Lam-A-Ding-Dong)
– Submitted by Caveman.

#9. “If You Can Find A Better Blog, You’re A Dick!
– Submitted by Ephland.

#8. “Your New Mancrush.”
– Submitted by the Slackmistress.

#7. “Rock Out With Your Pop Culture Out.”
– Submitted by Bruce.

#6. “Quirky And Awkward. On Purpose.”
-Submitted by Caitlin. (WINNER!)

#5. “Making Your Day Better Since 2004; Like Alcohol.
-Submitted by Cargirl. (WINNER!)

#4. “Where Fun Goes To Die Since 2004.
– Submitted by Maus. (WINNER!)

#3. “Awkward Slow Dances With Pop Culture Since 2004.
– Submitted by Emily. (WINNER!)

#2. “Rocking Pop Culture Since 2004.”
– Submitted by Kate. (WINNER!)

#1. “Welcome To The World’s Largest Dysfunctional Family.
– Submitted by Caveman. (GRAND PRIZE WINNER!)

There you have it. Like I said, I’ll be contacting the six finalists by e-mail shortly to sort out what’s going where. I want to thank everyone once again for playing along; I expect a few of these to end up on CDP merchandise in the near future. Congrats to the winners!

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.